TrueCar is rebuilding its computer interface around mobile car-shopping to seize on a pronounced trend in its traffic volume, CEO Scott Painter said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday.
In January for the first time, 50 percent of shoppers on TrueCar’s website got there via a mobile device, Painter said; that figure is expected to grow to 90 percent in 18 months.
Much of the $50 million that TrueCar expects to spend on technology development in 2015 is aimed at giving customers a better mobile experience, he said.
TrueCar, which went public in May 2014 and generates revenue from fees paid by dealers for vehicles sold through its network, was cash-flow positive in 2014. It also was cash-flow positive in the fourth quarter, a rare feat for an emerging technology company, said President John Krafcik in a phone interview after the earnings call.
TrueCar reported that fourth-quarter revenue jumped 38 percent to $55.5 million. Its net loss based on generally accepted accounting principles widened to $9.8 million from $7.6 million a year earlier. Under non-GAAP accounting, which is often used by technology companies and excludes the impact of stock-based compensation and certain other expenses, TrueCar reported earnings of $277,000, compared with a loss of $3 million a year earlier.
Full-year revenue for 2014 was up 54 percent to $206.6 million.
TrueCar said 610,620 vehicles were purchased from its network of new- and used-car dealers by users of its online shopping channels, including sites it operates for affinity partners such as USAA and AAA. That was up 53 percent from 2013, the company said.
Painter said the results for the year helped put cash in the bank. The company ended 2014 with cash just shy of $150 million. It also has a credit line of $50 million. That availability will help finance TrueCar’s mobile and product development push, he said.
“TrueCar continues to attract both consumers and dealers in record numbers, driving strong network effects and significant operating leverage,” Painter said in a statement.
Besides the mobile initiative, Painter said the company will focus in 2015 on ensuring that TrueCar shoppers are able to get not only guaranteed prices on cars but also visibility into out-the-door costs that include fees, manufacturer incentives and other items.